Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mending a Small Shell

His first few days in school revealed his past struggles. 
When his new elementary school classmates ran up to him saying, “Will you be my friend?” he replied, “No!” He turned away, crossed his arms and showed a determined scowl. At lunch time he carefully guarded his food with his arms around his plate and didn’t talk to anyone. 
The staff at the Madonna School have seen this before.  “Give him some time,” they told the other children.  The teachers recognized these signs of a protective shell, a shell built by a small boy to cope with bullies and misunderstanding. 
But that’s all behind him now.  It took a few weeks, then everyone began to see the changes from a scared child who dreaded school and even lunch time to a boy finding the simple pleasure of acceptance.  His mother reported a nearly complete turnaround in his behavior.

Jay Dunlap, Madonna School President, in his October interview with the Morning Blend recognized that “mainstreaming special needs students (is) a great approach for a lot of students. Others need a different approach.”
Every child must be given a nurturing environment in order to learn and the opportunity to gain confidence in order to reach his potential.   By serving only students with cognitive and developmental issues, Madonna School is that place for over 50 students. By “creating a unique environment,” they allow the staff to nurture the students to “maximize independence in life.”
The boy who doesn’t have to guard over his lunch anymore is learning more than academics. He is learning acceptance, friendship and dignity. 

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